Fading hope (Pt. 9)

9 minutes to read 777 views 0 users like this 0 comments

Riley stared back at us with an incredulous expression and a grotesquely clawed hand protruding from his chest. His wide eyes looked down at the foreign extremity. The hand was malformed but shaped as it perfect for hooking and piercing. Its hand flexed and suddenly Riley was being lifted up from the ground. With how violent it pierced Riley, he was left unable to scream in pain. Lucky for us but more unfortunate for him.

Our lights shinning on him shifted upwards revealing a monstrous creature above him. Suspended by similar clawed hands from the side of the wall and ceiling, the creature looked down at us with a face that resembled a fleshy spider. The once average human arms and legs were now elongated, doubling their lengths.

Local moms need anonymous sex.

The human eyes were now large black orbs over their upper jaw that was split in two. It came together making that sickening clicking noise. The lower jaw looked like it no longer had bone structure. That feature hung low with some kind of glowing liquid dripping from it. 

Drake and I were left frozen staring at this fictitious monster that had just speared our companion like a fish in water. The clicking sounds intensified as it lifted Riley closer to its face. The ooze continuously dripping from its maw fell over the shoulder Riley had cut and seemed to be smoking.

I realized then the liquid coming from the creature was just the same substance the Infected secreted to form a chrysalis. The lord commander was right. There was a new mutant in Nova, and we just came face to face with it. Rachel had stumbled upon these things and died because of them. Our chances of survival just took a nose dive.

To his credit, Riley wasn’t dead yet. As he was lifted towards the creature, in all the pain he was experiencing, he managed to take out the key and toss it with little strength he had left. The creature clamped its upper jaw around his neck as the device soared through the air. The true key to Nova’s survival was more important than the documents I held or the lives we risked.

With that single act, Riley’s death did not go in vain.

Instinct took over in both of us. With the key to Nova’s survival airborne, Drake focused his efforts and caught the device. We were already dashing towards the elevator shafts in the span of time it took from it leaving Riley’s hand and into Drake’s. Escaping with proof was our only priority now. Nothing else mattered. Even if Drake gets taken down, I had to get the key from him. If I should go down…he needed to leave me behind.

We ran as our lives depended on it. The muscles in our legs strained to push us faster as the horrid creature let out a ghoulish wail. It’s terrifying voice was more frightening than a Banshee’s yet had the same affect. Throughout the basement and most likely the rest of the building, others answered its cry.

Retracing our steps, we found Howard taking down his third monster. The thing was racing across the ceiling before a bolt pierced its ugly face. Its spiderlike body fell to floor next to its brethren as more shouted in the direction it came from.

“Up! NOW!” Howard shouted as he loaded another bolt into his crossbow. “I’ll hold them off!” He didn’t even ask attempt to ask what happened to his partner.

Drake was already up the shaft climbing up to the next floor while I was climbing through the security latch. I heard Howard firing several more bolts before seeing him climbing through the small opening. He grabbed a grenade from his belt, stuck his throwing arm through the hole and threw it.

I had just climbed up onto the first basement level when a loud boom resonated beneath us. The explosion rocked the foundation as more wails followed. On the next level I expected to see Duane waiting for me, but he wasn’t. I looked right then left as I heard Howard lifting himself up from the shaft cursing at himself. There were several of those creepy crawling things dead in one direction but no bodies.

“Kit!”

I turned towards the other elevator and counted myself stupid. Duane was in in the next elevator with his hand out to hoist me up into the unit. I took it happy to see his grime stricken face and proceeded up into the next elevator shaft. In the longer chamber, Drake had just gotten to the ground floor and dropping the hook down for me to grab.

The rope stopped just high enough for me to have to jump to reach it. Before taking the opportunity to save myself, I helped Duane up onto the top of the elevator.  As soon as he was on his feet, he shoved me towards the rope saying, “Go! I’ll help Howard.” He was right in telling me to do so. We could only get up there one at a time.

Grasping the rope and hook with an iron grip I tugged it to signal Josh. In a second, I was thrust into the air, surprised by the sheer strength of that religious brute. I reached the ground level faster than I expected and grabbed Drake’s outstretched hand to pull me in. Fast as I could, I threw the rope back down so the others could get to safety. Only they were in trouble.

Those spidery monsters were relentless like their counterparts and were pursing us all with terrifying intent. As their heads poked through the small opening, Duane was striking at them with heavy blows. Howard was making head shot after head shot as fast as he could load his crossbow. Their battle was pointless. From the sounds coming from every dark corner of this complex, it sounded like a stampede was coming.

Just when they both noticed the handle was back down, the distraction cost one of them their lives. One of the creature’s claws locked around Howard’s leg and swept him off his feet faster than the man could react. He was pulled down into the elevator with those things screaming as he went. Duane took one more swing at the closest monster and finally jumped towards the rope as the other man cried in anguish behind him. 

As I watch the love of my life fight for his life, I completely ignored the heroism happening beside me. One moment I’m watching Duane literally reaching for his life the next I was on my ass. Drake had pulled me back. I looked back to where I was only to see Josh, his end of the rope firmly secured around him, jump into the elevator shaft.

I couldn’t help the shout that came from my mouth and clamored towards the opening. Just in the nick of time, I saw Josh plummet towards the opening where several of them had stuffed themselves through. As he descended, Duane shot up into the air. The weight and force of Josh had counteracted the weight needed to send the other man up to safety.

He sacrificed himself. Why?

I didn’t have a second more to think as Duane came hurtling towards us. He came up too fast and had to fling himself towards us. My beloved tool made the saddest of noises as it burst apart from the extreme use. As Duane slammed into onto the ledge, I latched onto him and yanked him up the rest of the way.

Looking down was an incredible sight. Josh was handling himself as he crushed the creatures he landed on and proceeded to bash those that tried to crawl through the opening. He didn’t even look back as he shouted the first word he had uttered this entire time, “RUN!”

Accentuating his words, another more powerful explosion rattled the building. Howard must have had more than one grenade. None of us waited to see the carnage once Duane was on his feet. As we were distracted with what happened, Drake had taken down several Stumblers that were attracted by the commotion.

Once he killed the last one, the three of us ran as loud as we needed to be away from everything we just ran from. All around us we could hear more Infected coming to storm the building. Their home had been breached and that meant food. If we didn’t get out, we were to be their next meal just like all the other times I tortured myself with thinking. Can’t be helped when you’re the hunted.

Drake was leading us back the way we came. Along the way, we had to take strategic swipes at the Stumblers wandering towards us. Up several escalators and down the halls towards the plaza. We ran as fast as we could. Just when we thought we could make it, we had to make a detour. An Alpha sprang through the very exit we were headed towards. It locked eyes on us and bellowed to the others. It had found its prey.

We took a hard left crossing a connecting bridge with the other side of the mall. The beast launched itself towards us only to plumet to the first floor after misjudging the distance. Its demise was wholly ignored as two more crashed into the mall where it came from. From down below, a symphony of clicking echoed up the high walls.

The chase drove us to cut corners every time an Alpha or even a Freaker came into our path. It left us no choice but to charge down one of the connecting bridges to the adjacent building. Coming upon the doors to the other side had a surprise waiting for us. A large Alpha burst through the double doors right as Drake was speeding towards them.

The Cleric surprised us both by skillfully dodging the beast’s feral swipe only to cripple it with a swipe of his machete to the back of one of its legs. The beast fell to the ground with its head smashed by the blunt end of Duane’s weapon. Behind us, a roaring mix of Alphas, Freakers, and…Crawlers bumbled their way into the bridge and straight towards us. The only way was forward.

Seeing them rushing and fumbling over each other in the narrow corridor brought an idea to me. My hand quickly grabbed the grenade I was given and released the pin. The others saw me throw it towards the Infected and pushed to escape the ensuing destruction. We crashed through the other side just as the explosion took out the skybridge and those inside it.

With frantic memory of which direction we were taking, I lead the three of us through the building and into a stairwell. Rushing up to the top floor had us coming to a halt as the path was blocked, but not secured. Chairs, tables, and other furniture were battered and broken apart leaving the beginning of a way to break through.

Drake and I pushed and shoved widening the hole. We stopped moving things at one point and started climbing over the crap instead. Drake was over first, and I had a hand at my ass pushing me up and over. On the other side, I turned to see Duane clamoring through the tight hole we made. Just when he was about to make it, something grabbed him.

The look on his face was something I never wanted to see again, fear. He didn’t shout in pain as he gripped the sides of the makeshift wall. Drake and I grabbed him and pulled as hard as we could to pull him through. Whichever Infected had grabbed him was overpowering the three of us.

In the midst of the frantic scene, I used my last trump card I carried. I armed the flash grenade and shoved it through a tight opening and dropped it. The few seconds it took for the grenade to go off was more intense than the light bursting through every crack in the wall.

Howls erupted on the other side and Duane was released. We all fell back on the stairs and clamored to keep moving. The temporary blindness wasn’t going to last long. The monsters were already tearing at the barricade. Each of our asses were bounding up finding a way to get to the roofs.

“Come on!” I urged them as we raced up the final set of stairs. “We’re almost there!”

The wails coming from all directions challenged my encouragement.

Did you also like this story?

Yes, I loved this story

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

[mailpoet_form id=”1″]